Monday, January 20, 2014

Roller Calotypes

Roller Callotype
Every parent is overjoyed by their children's successes.  I, certainly, feel very proud that since last year I have, not one, but two readers. That said, their reading has caused me certain inconveniences.

Roller Callotype Each Advent season, my girls and I forego chocolates to spend 24 evenings trying out things that interest us.
Last year, I found myself the only literate member of our little crafting circle, so I was able to make all the choices without impunity. This year the girls have the added ability to be able to make meaning of what was just gobbletygook under those pretty pictures on Pinterest.  Research plus volition equals trouble.

We made a list. I bought some supplies.  And, we got to getting on.  Or rather, more accurately, we tried to make bouncy balls at home, attempted to make a snow globe that didn't leak, and made terrariums that could more aptly be called sedum genocide. In the end, we came to an important conclusion--the internet lies.  Lies.  All lies.

The challenge about home craft compared to my day job making art with students is that you are often trying things for the first time with your kids.  In the classroom, you always pre-try your project.  There is nothing more horrifying that sitting in a room with 35 high school students when you don't quite know if your paper-making project is going to work. Rather than experience anarchy or embarrassment, you always pre-test your project.

At home, you would basically need to craft by night and parent by day (and take something special to sustain that pace) to be able to try out the project before doing it with your children.  So, instead, you and your children become intrepid explores in the wilds of the internet how-to-verse.  With that in mind, we have started testing things and assessing the success of these little projects.

Roller Callotype Our first experiment was with roller callotypes.  I have seen people us sticky/foaming stuff on rolling pins.  But, I am not quite willing to give up a rolling pin.  So, we were on the look out for other things that can roll.  We considered cardboard rolls and lint rollers.  But, in the end, we went with water bottles.  There definitely benefits.  These are a great size for little hands.  And, if you are trying to get an even pattern, you can see through the bottle so that your columns line up.  The challenge with water bottles is that they are light, so you need to apply pressure to make an even print.

And, if you want to see this test in action...

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Slushy Shirley Temple or Very Cold Virgin Vortex

Slushy Shirley Temple

As an only child, I didn't have the benefit of comparison.  My behaviors, my reactions, my nature could not be benchmarked against another incarnation of my parents.  And, it is my inexperience perhaps that leads me to notice the many differences between Maybelle and Tigerlily.  Where one is cautious, the other fearless.  Where one is salty, the other sweet--both of behavior and taste.

Today, we were reading Anthony McCall Smith's new series about Precious Ramotswe's Botswana.  When the father of Precious recalls being confronted by a lion, I asked the girls what would they do had they been in Obed's shoes.  Maybelle considered her actions, while Tigerlily yelled out that she would eat him.  I countered, "I think the lion would want to eat you."  Then, she retorted, "I would use my gun, and then make him into meat."  Maybelle remained silent, astutely pondering her course.  Finally she said, "I would run for shelter and barricade myself in."  And, there they are, often one is action, while the other is potential energy.

At other times, there reactions are shockingly similar.  In the throes of the evil chill vortex that has made me think of Jack Frost as a charming, warm hearted fellow, we have been all but agoraphobics.  We are starting to feel like the weather is sentencing us to house arrest. I have moved from mother to camp counselor, filling every moment with something, anything, that might prevent mutiny.  After all, if I had to walk the gang plank, I might freeze before I fell off.  

So, today, when NPR posted about chilling experiments, we got to going.  A little ginger ale, some grenadine, rose water, and of course, insanely, unseasonably, ridiculously cold weather, and you have a drink that both of my girls devoured with equal vigor.   Watch the video at the end of NPR's post for directions. 
Slushy Shirley Temple

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Paper Bag Advent Calendar

Bauhaus Advent Calendar During the Thanksgiving preparations, I had my mind on many things, most of them not food. I certainly ate.  And, ate.  And ate.  But, I found my mind combatting tensions, stresses, and other banalities.  Finally, my mind began to fixate on lunch bags. 

We had a number of lunch bags around.  At Halloween, we had thrown a crazy bash that rotten many a mouth within a ten mile radius.  In order to encourage the guests to take the sugar home and away from our own children, we had an activity where children could decorate hand lino-printed bags.  It was these leftover white bags that were singing to me.

Cooking has always been a joy for me; its inherent creativity and relationship to conviviality enrich me.  However, the food blogging scene, with its competition and cliquishness, were challenging. I always felt like I was in middle school.  But, in the midst of radio silence, I was certainly cooking.  Though rather than trying to find new combinations and frankly win adoration from unseen, unknown followers, I went back to regulars.  I just cooked for myself and my family.  And, then I also allowed my many interests to live unobserved. 

Making things, in whatever form that takes, continues to enrich me at home.  I continue to write and photograph.  But, I have been doing it for myself. And, this takes me back to the moment, where I was standing at my pantry door, as if eying a conquest.  The bags were just sitting on the shelf.  Lets face it.  They were asking for it. 

A couple hours, a few snips, and a little bondage, and voila, a paper bag Advent Calendar.  The spare appearance began a whirlwhind of further Advent making.  Felt and mason jars were harmed, to be sure.  The children can now certainly count up to 24.  If they are doing anything other than hours in a day of a portion of the month of December, it could be a problem.  But, hey, why put too much pressure on your young?

Bauhaus Advent Calendar